24 APRIL 2017. ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING followed by DAVID SCRIVEN: CRIMINAL OSSETT 1780-1914
At the Annual General Meeting Ruth Nettleton’ election as Chairman was ratified and the other officers and committee members were re-elected. As the Treasurer’s report showed the society had a healthy surplus, it was decided to maintain the subscriptions at £10 for the coming season. The Secretary reported that the best attended meeting was for Douglas Brammer’s presentation of his lively drawings of Ossett in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Under Any Other Business concern was expressed at the lack of progress in the refurbishment of Ossett Library’s Station Road premises and at the lack of disabled access and internet connection in the library’s temporary accommodation in the Town Hall.
David Scriven’s talk ‘Criminal Ossett 1780 - 1914’ examined some of the perpetrators and victims of a variety of crimes in over a century of the town’s history. One theme in the talk was domestic violence, a crime often taken for granted at this time. Yet in at least one case, that of Martha Boocock, an assault by a husband led to a wife’s death. Another theme was theft. Among the town’s thieves were the Pickersgills of Street Side, whose home yielded three cart loads of goods stolen from local shops and markets when it was raided by the police. Ossett was also the scene of a case of industrial espionage during the Napoleonic Wars when Henry Dobson, a visitor to the town, was fined and imprisoned for trying to take models and drawings of machinery to France. Finally, the town was briefly the home of a bigamist and fraudster, Sidney Cecil Buchanan Beauchamp, whose stories of his military service at the start of the First World War were swiftly exposed as lies after they were ‘Ossett Observer’.
27 MARCH 2017. DAVID SCRIMGEOUR: PROPER PEOPLE
David shared his research into the lives of patients in the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum (later Stanley Royd Hospital), using a variety of sources, particularly the excellent collection of case notes deposited at West Yorkshire Archive Service. He highlighted some of the reasons poor people were committed to the asylum and the different forms of treatment, including purging, bleeding, the circular swing and warm/cold baths. Among the many inmates described was Lachlan McKenzie, from Glasgow, who had worked as a woodcarver in Huddersfield, before being admitted to the Asylum. While there he carved a magnificent eagle lectern for St Faith’s church, which can still be seen today in the Mental Health Museum. Another inmate, George Penny, spent 49 years in the Asylum, costing the town of Bradford nearly £2,000 for his maintenance, though it must be said that, working as a tailor, he helped to produce the Asylum’s clothing during this period. Illustrating the humane conditions in the Asylum, David told of another inmate, a habitual drunkard, who was taken on a fishing expedition by staff. Unfortunately, he got drunk and fell out of the dog cart on the way home. His absence was not discovered until the occupants of the cart arrived back at the Asylum!
For further information see David Scrimgeour’s book “Proper People: Early asylum life in the words of those who were there” (2015)
27 FEBRUARY 2017. JOHN LYTE: BRIESTFIELD
John Lyte, chairman of the Briestfield History and Community Group, gave a well-illustrated talk on aspects of the history the ancient hamlet of Briestfield. In particular he highlighted changes during the last one hundred years. This was a period when the population dwindled from over 1,000 to less than 200 as a result of the decline of the local coal and textile industries and the demolition of insanitary housing. From the late 16th century until the early 20th century much of the hamlet belonged to the Armytage family of Kirklees, but death duties led to them selling off their local properties and to a rise in the number of owner occupiers in Briestfleld. Today many of the surviving older properties, some dating back three hundred years, have been renovated and are homes to commuters.
30 JANUARY 2017. RUTH NETTLETON: THE INGHAMS AND THE WHITAKERS
Benjamin Ingham (1784-1861), a member of an old Ossett family, arrived in Sicily in 1806 as representative of his family’s merchant firm. He proved to be very successful , building up a trade in marsala, wine, citrus fruits and sulphur as well as lending money to the Sicilian aristocracy and the King of Naples. To carry some of the goods he had his own merchant ships, one of which traded with the Far East and profits from his exports to the USA were invested in American canals and railways. All of this was achieved against a background in Sicily of war, rebellions and cholera epidemics. To assist him in his enterprise he recruited five of his Ingham and Whitaker nephews, none of whom showed quite the same flair for making money. Part of the family fortune was donated towards the cost of Ossett’s Holy Trinity Church which remains a striking memorial to a remarkable man.
28 NOVEMBER 2016. DOUGLAS BRAMMER: OSSETT SKETCHES
Ossett-born and bred, Douglas Brammer has for many years mined his memory to produce lively drawings of the Ossett of his youth, in particular the people and buildings of the Flushdyke area, his own neighbourhood. In his reminiscences accompanying the images he highlighted the great gulf between the working people and those living in the larger houses of the area. As a small boy, Douglas sat on the boundary wall watching the tennis parties at Longlands House. Douglas was assisted by Alan Howe and Steve Wilson and the presentation will be uploaded to www.ossett.net
HOLY TRINITY SCHOOL ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
Two members of the Society, Mike Adams and David Scriven, recently helped Holy Trinity School with its 140th anniversary celebrations. Using a selection of images from the Ossett Community Archive they presented a slideshow to several classes, showing what the town was like between the 1870s and the 1920s. The children showed a keen interest in the pictures, which included shots of horse-drawn transport, trams, early cars, and asked Mike and David a lot of very good questions.
31 OCTOBER 2016. JOHN WALSH: POTS FOR HORBURY
In this well-illustrated talk, John Walsh highlighted the many different varieties of ceramics, produced mainly in The Potteries, which displayed Horbury motifs and scenes. The working men’s club commissioned a variety of mugs and beakers to give to local school children to commemorate events such as coronations and silver jubilees. Horbury Co-operative Society illustrated its commemorative mugs with pictures of the three local shops and gave them out at children’s festivals, held every ten years from the Society’s foundation in 1866. Other ceramics, including plates and jugs, were commissioned by local churches and chapels, both to commemorate anniversaries and to raise funds. Purely commercial ceramics included stoneware flagons used by local botanical brewers such as Gledhill and North. John has documented over 40 different types of Horbury pots in the last few years.
26 SEPTEMBER 2016. CHRISTINE HEWITT: ORDINARY SITLINGTON FOLK IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES
Recently restored windows in St. Luke’s Church, Middlestown commemorate soldiers from the parish who died serving during the First World War. Two of the windows are dedicated to brothers William Henry and Cecil Bedford and to Wilfred Kaye. Christine’s talk highlighted the lives and service history of the three young men. William Henry went to Ossett Grammar School before becoming a colliery clerk at Denby Grange. He enlisted in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, was injured at the battle of the Somme and died of his injuries. His brother Cecil, who was a bank clerk, entered the Manchester Regiment but died in Mesopotamia in March 1916. He is remembered on the Basra War Memorial in Iraq.
Wilfred Kaye’s family moved from Kirkburton to St. Luke’s cottage in Middlestown, where his father was caretaker for the church and school. Wilfred himself worked at the Co-op, where he was “a highly respected employee” who was also an accomplished violinist. He too served in the KOYLI, as a signaller, but was killed at the third battle of Ypres in 1917. He is commemorated at the Tyne Cot War Cemetery.